Children are being born every day, young people are enrolling into schools yearly and many more are graduating and our tertiary institutions are churning out young people with dreams of achievements, goals, aspirations and a desire to have a great life. The population of Nigeria which today is unregulated maybe by family planning is becoming more of a burden than what people use to see it as; large market. The number of people who now call themselves Nigeria is overwhelming for the government to think of a comprehensive social program that can cater for half of the people who need support and welfare.
We hear of the American dream, how the US is a land of opportunities, how people desire to go to Europe and do all manner of jobs. Africans thronging Europe see dignity in the jobs they do there because the money involved is a lot of money here at home. Interestingly, yesterday being 21st February, 2017 saw the dollar hovering around N520 and there is an apprehension that it will get to a thousand naira.
Corps members are adopted for a year, paid a meager salary that can place them as extremely poor based on the definition by the UN and after a year of service to fatherland, the allowance stops coming and you are left to continue the struggles alone. Working in the government as a civil servant is not regarded as something to be proud of when compared to someone working in the civil service of maybe the United Kingdom. Young people find such works as anti-creative, in fact a civil servant advised me against coming to join the system because I won’t fit in and my ideas will never be heard.
Coming to the private sector, they pay a lot to stay afloat, overheads are terrible, taxes drain most of your income, rent is not business-friendly and most people manage to run their businesses. This recession however has made it even more severe as many businesses have closed down by various known and obvious factors of production or rendering a quality service. I got to know that despite the nature of the aviation industry, government still charges airlines as high as 25-30% in taxes; no single domestic carrier can be deemed to be profitable. You can imagine when my wife tells me that her flight from Kano to Abuja only had about 10 passengers and there was a need to get aviation fuel to connect to Accra after stopping at Abuja.
A young man in the 70s starts work with government and after 40 years of service with the state or federal government he is still owed about 70 months in pensions and gratuities. This is someone who needs to eat, get healthcare, travel, provide for his family, enjoy his retirement and rest properly before he kicks the bucket and is being owed over 6 years of pensions.
What dreams are we fulfilling for citizens in this country?
In his book the Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell said something about hard work and he pointed out that the Chinese believe that hard work or every effort has a reward. In that part of the world that is a law that has been existing since the days of the paddy rice farming and it still holds sway today but in Nigeria I doubt if that is the case. Nigeria has become a place where natural laws are broken, where working hard alone might bring forth the due reward or most likely not.
The hard work that actually brings reward are those that requires one to compromise integrity, that nepotism and favoritism have to be in place, where short cuts are needed every step of the way, rewards that come through moral and ethical decadence in our young people. That today is the case and situation in Nigeria. If you ask people how they actually make the kind of money they have, they will tell you the obvious answers but will never reveal what really went down to hit millions in a short time.
Going further, I remember one of the statements of former Governor Peter Obi at the Platform Nigeria; that people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg will fail if they were to be in Nigeria. That has every element of truth in it, why; because intellectual property means nothing here. Ideas need to work before you can be reckoned with and you need to show proof of collaterals and landed properties before banks can offer any kind of support (with interest rates). Ideas are not lacking in the mind of Nigerians, but what I have found is that our ecosystem is not ripe for some ideas but when taken to other advanced countries; you will earn good respect. Hard work in Nigeria has been reduced to suffering, stress, insanity, rat race before you can hit the oil.
If we are ever going to have the Nigeria of our dreams, then the dream of many needs to be fulfilled. We hear of statistics about progress made by government yet GDP per capita is very low. A large percentage cannot be in abject poverty and a government is counting gains that are favouring a minute percentage of the populace.
That bike (okada) man has dreams, the son of our former gateman who rushes out to open the gate has dreams, hawkers on the streets desire a great life, that banker on a rat-race longs for more, we all crave for independence and comfort and above all we desire that Nigeria can work for all.
Schooling and getting education has a way of shielding young people from the realities in the world even as they dream big of being doctors, architects, bankers, a Dangote, industrialists, lawyers, engineers, artistes, movie stars and more. No one tells them that things are hard or that Nigeria is very chaotic for universal laws to even apply including their parents. So on graduation, they leave with a mindset that things will go as their teachers painted it to them; you get a job, save up money and start your own business or career. We are made to believe in a pseudo-perfect system like Nigeria when in reality the road to success has been made longer than it should be.
What dreams can a 9-year old have, run with and have it fulfilled in good time?
The Nigerian reality is that there is a contest and fight between good and evil and evil has been winning the battles. We know the challenges we face, their root causes yet we can’t or don’t want to fix things. We call them cabals or special and vested interests but it is unfortunate that we have been playing to their tunes at the expense of many others in so much misery. How can darkness be winning the battles of making Nigeria work when so many people have light in them? You can say compromise; many people are joining the bandwagon of going the way some others went.
The weariness about Nigeria can only drain someone but in that spirit of love for fatherland, I will continue to hope, act, and work and do, that this nation might live. Evil might be winning the battles today but eventually light will win the war.
Nigeria shall rise!